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How and Why Wall Street Programmers Earn Top Salaries

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the are-they-holding-the-economy-ransom dept.

Businesses 791

msmoriarty writes "Given the level of interest in the recent highest-paid programmers discussion, our reporter decided to do a follow-up looking into the languages and skills needed to work on high-frequency trading systems. There's actually a pretty wide range of languages/tools used, but Linux is the 'default' OS and, not surprisingly, the 'ability to work under pressure when the traders are screaming at you' is a must-have skill."

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Perversion of Capitalism (5, Insightful)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936714)

"In high-frequency trading (HFT), programmers eke out every last incremental tick in performance to build algorithms that battle other algorithms for computational supremacy and millions in profits -- and earn a lot in the process."

Skimming money off billions of micro-transactions. Ahh, yes... forget investing in ideas and backing well managed companies... this is the way capitalism was envisioned.

Re:Perversion of Capitalism (4, Funny)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936722)

Look, superman III had a lot of lessons to teach. It's really too bad on villains watched it...

Re:Perversion of Capitalism (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36936776)

With respect, there are things more important than mechanically clicking your "Off-topic" moderation and patting yourself on the back for being a diligent Slashdotter. Here's to hope that you will view this as one of them. Here's to hope that the content of this message is more significant than the slight inconvenience some will experience at skipping over one post that may not interest them. Here's to hope that at least a few will see that as having one's priorities in order.

I the AC did not write this letter. I am merely trying to support what I wholeheartedly believe. It was written by a man named Dr. David Kaiser. It has been reformatted to make a more readable Slashdot post but is otherwise unaltered.

History Unfolding

I am a student of history. Professionally, I have written 15 books on history that have been published in six languages, and I have studied history all my life. I have come to think there is something monumentally large afoot, and I do not believe it is simply a banking crisis, or a mortgage crisis, or a credit crisis. Yes these exist, but they are merely single facets on a very large gemstone that is only now coming into a sharper focus..

Something of historic proportions is happening. I can sense it because I know how it feels, smells, what it looks like, and how people react to it... Yes, a perfect storm may be brewing, but there is something happening within our country that has been evolving for about ten to fifteen years. The pace has dramatically quickened in the past two.

We demand and then codify into law the requirement that our banks make massive loans to people we know they can never pay back? Why?

We learned just days ago that the Federal Reserve, which has little or no real oversight by anyone, has "loaned" two trillion dollars (that is $2,000,000,000,000) over the past few months, but will not tell us to whom or why or disclose the terms. That is our money. Yours and mine. And that is three times the $700 billion we all argued about so strenuously just this past September. Who has this money? Why do they have it? Why are the terms unavailable to us? Who asked for it? Who authorized it? I thought this was a government of "we the people," who loaned our powers to our elected leaders. Apparently not.

We have spent two or more decades intentionally de-industrializing our economy... Why?

We have intentionally dumbed down our schools, ignored our history, and no longer teach our founding documents, why we are exceptional, and why we are worth preserving. Students by and large cannot write, think critically, read, or articulate. Parents are not revolting, teachers are not picketing, school boards continue to back mediocrity. Why?

We have now established the precedent of protesting every close election (violently in California over a proposition that is so controversial that it simply wants marriage to remain defined as between one man and one woman. Did you ever think such a thing possible just a decade ago?) We have corrupted our sacred political process by allowing unelected judges to write laws that radically change our way of life, and then mainstream Marxist groups like ACORN and others to turn our voting system into a banana republic. To what purpose?

Now our mortgage industry is collapsing, housing prices are in free fall, major industries are failing, our banking system is on the verge of collapse, social security is nearly bankrupt, as is Medicare and our entire government. Our education system is worse than a joke (I teach college and I know precisely what I am talking about) - the list is staggering in its length, breadth, and depth.. It is potentially 1929 x ten...And we are at war with an enemy we cannot even name for fear of offending people of the same religion, who, in turn, cannot wait to slit the throats of your children if they have the opportunity to do so.

And finally, we have elected a man that no one really knows anything about, who has never run so much as a Dairy Queen, let alone a town as big as Wasilla, Alaska .. All of his associations and alliances are with real radicals in their chosen fields of employment, and everything we learn about him, drip by drip, is unsettling if not downright scary (Surely you have heard him speak about his idea to create and fund a mandatory civilian defense force stronger than our military for use inside our borders? No? Oh, of course. The media would never play that for you over and over and then demand he answer it. Sarah Palin's pregnant daughter and $150,000 wardrobe are more important.)

Mr. Obama's winning platform can be boiled down to one word: Change.. Why?

I have never been so afraid for my country and for my children as I am now.

This man campaigned on bringing people together, something he has never, ever done in his professional life. In my assessment, Obama will divide us along philosophical lines, push us apart, and then try to realign the pieces into a new and different power structure. Change is indeed coming. And when it comes, you will never see the same nation again.

And that is only the beginning...

As a serious student of history, I thought I would never come to experience what the ordinary, moral German must have felt in the mid-1930s In those times, the "savior" was a former smooth-talking rabble-rouser from the streets, about whom the average German knew next to nothing. What they should have known was that he was associated with groups that shouted, shoved, and pushed around people with whom they disagreed; he edged his way onto the political stage through great oratory. Conservative "losers" read it right now.

And there were the promises. Economic times were tough, people were losing jobs, and he was a great speaker. And he smiled and frowned and waved a lot. And people, even newspapers, were afraid to speak out for fear that his "brown shirts" would bully and beat them into submission. Which they did - regularly. And then, he was duly elected to office, while a full-throttled economic crisis bloomed at hand - the Great Depression. Slowly, but surely he seized the controls of government power, person by person, department by department, bureaucracy by bureaucracy. The children of German citizens were at first, encouraged to join a Youth Movement in his name where they were taught exactly what to think. Later, they were required to do so. No Jews, of course.

How did he get people on his side? He did it by promising jobs to the jobless, money to the money-less, and rewards for the military-industrial complex. He did it by indoctrinating the children, advocating gun control, health care for all, better wages, better jobs, and promising to re-instill pride once again in the country, across Europe , and across the world. He did it with a compliant media - did you know that? And he did this all in the name of justice and .... . ... change. And the people surely got what they voted for.

If you think I am exaggerating, look it up. It's all there in the history books.

So read your history books. Many people of conscience objected in 1933 and were shouted down, called names, laughed at, and ridiculed. When Winston Churchill pointed out the obvious in the late 1930s while seated in the House of Lords in England (he was not yet Prime Minister), he was booed into his seat and called a crazy troublemaker. He was right, though. And the world came to regret that he was not listened to.

Do not forget that Germany was the most educated, the most cultured country in Europe . It was full of music, art, museums, hospitals, laboratories, and universities. And yet, in less than six years (a shorter time span than just two terms of the U. S. presidency) it was rounding up its own citizens, killing others, abrogating its laws, turning children against parents, and neighbors against neighbors.. All with the best of intentions, of course. The road to Hell is paved with them.

As a practical thinker, one not overly prone to emotional decisions, I have a choice: I can either believe what the objective pieces of evidence tell me (even if they make me cringe with disgust); I can believe what history is shouting to me from across the chasm of seven decades; or I can hope I am wrong by closing my eyes, having another latte, and ignoring what is transpiring around me.

I choose to believe the evidence. No doubt some people will scoff at me, others laugh, or think I am foolish, naive, or both. To some degree, perhaps I am. But I have never been afraid to look people in the eye and tell them exactly what I believe-and why I believe it.

I pray I am wrong. I do not think I am. Perhaps the only hope is our vote in the next elections.

David Kaiser
Jamestown, Rhode Island
United States

David Kaiser is a respected historian whose published works have covered a broad range of topics, from European Warfare to American League Baseball. Born in 1947, the son of a diplomat, Kaiser spent his childhood in three capital cities: Washington D.C. , Albany , New York , and Dakar , Senegal. He attended Harvard University , graduating there in 1969 with a B.A. in history. He then spent several years more at Harvard, gaining a PhD in history, which he obtained in 1976. He served in the Army Reserve from 1970 to 1976. He is a professor in the Strategy and Policy Department of the United States Naval War College. He has previously taught at Carnegie Mellon, Williams College and Harvard University.

But really none of those credentials are needed to notice that something has seriously gone wrong with this country.

Re:Perversion of Capitalism (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36936820)

Who Is John Galt?

Re:Perversion of Capitalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36936836)

who fucking cares?

Re:Perversion of Capitalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36936850)

Do you know the legend of Atlantis?

Re:Perversion of Capitalism (0)

aaarrrgggh (9205) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936972)

Dean of architecture at KU. Why do you ask? ;)

Re:Perversion of Capitalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36936902)

I didn't incorrectly mod it off-topic, I correctly modded it troll.

http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/proportions.asp [snopes.com]

Re:Perversion of Capitalism (0)

baitisj2 (671789) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936904)

http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/proportions.asp

Attributing this to David Kaiser is incorrect. "As far as we know, this piece began as a comment posted to Pat Dollard's blog in November 2008 by an author identified only as 'TPS'."

you know who else posted bullshit analogies (4, Funny)

decora (1710862) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937004)

on internet forums?

that's right. Adolph Hitler.

He wrote hundreds of pages 'exposing' the 'truth' behind 'power'.

It was called 'the protocols of the elders of zion'. of course, the whole thing was bullshit. made up by some anonymous author, possibly the Russian Tsar's secret police, to support yet another pogrom.

But Hitler took this and ran with it. Over and over this document, and many others, including his book Mein Kampf, were given out by the tens of thousands. People were happy to 'forward' these 'revelations' to others, often tweaking details here and there, or changing the attribution of the author(s).

And what happened in the end? Trillions of children were killed. I'm a student of history too. I have over 5 billion books published. On the internet. You can look it up.

Re:Perversion of Capitalism (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36936726)

Skimming money off billions of micro-transactions. Ahh, yes... forget investing in ideas and backing well managed companies... this is the way capitalism was envisioned.

Oh, admit it; this has been every computer programmer's dream since they saw Superman III as a child.

Re:Perversion of Capitalism (1)

jo42 (227475) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936778)

I call BS. You don't need much skill or talent in writing code that effectively does this in the end:

account.balance *= 10.0;

Re:Perversion of Capitalism (3, Funny)

russotto (537200) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936810)

I call BS. You don't need much skill or talent in writing code that effectively does this in the end:

account.balance *= 10.0;

The challenge isn't making the code do that. The challenge is making it look like the code is intended to do something entirely different, and that part is merely an unavoidable side effect.

Re:Perversion of Capitalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36936806)

Skimming money off billions of micro-transactions. Ahh, yes... forget investing in ideas and backing well managed companies... this is the way capitalism was envisioned.

Skimming is a mischaracterization of enormous magnitude. What they usually do is arbitrage. Something that has been part of various markets both physical and financial for a thousand years or more. It's effectively no different than buying potatoes in location A where they cost 10 cents each, driving them to location B using enough fuel to bring the cost of each potato up to 15 cents each and selling them for 20 cents each because location B has a shortage. They just do it really really fast and before the other guy can and are buying and selling contracts for physical assets rather than the assets themselves (or financial derivatives based on the physical assets in the case of financial trading). It's not rocket science and it's not nefarious in the least but the fastest guy makes millions and the second fastest guy has a bunch of expensive metaphorical potatoes that he can't sell for a profit on this hands.

Re:Perversion of Capitalism (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36936882)

Yup, and when the cheap energy runs out, there's going to be some "readjusting" going on in that model. But don't worry, it won't affect your hard-working heroes and moral models, it'll affect you and me. After all, we CHOSE to have this system....

Re:Perversion of Capitalism (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936910)

Skimming is a mischaracterization of enormous magnitude. What they usually do is arbitrage.

And arbitrage is nothing but skimming of an enormous magnitude.

Let's not bullshit here, OK?

enough lies please (5, Insightful)

decora (1710862) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937024)

we all understand what 'arbitrage' is. when the synthetic CDO market calls their deals 'arbitrage' we all know its fucking bullshit.

when the sales guys in the brochures talked about the 'AAA' ratings on these pieces of 'arbitrage', it was all bullshit.

when Lloyd Blankfein calls it 'hedging, not betting', its fucking bullshit. ]

there is absolutely nothing, whatsoever, 'valuable' behind a credit default swap. it is a bet. that is a fact, and its not rocket science, and its not a conspiracy theory, and its not "the ignorant and alarmist" decrying some nefarious boogey man. its the basic fucking fact of what fucking happened.

I beg of you. stop lying. nobody believes you anymore. this is like the scene in Shattered Glass when Peter Saarsgard has to finally explain to Hayden Christiansen that the whole charade has ended.

the financial industry has no clothes. we all know it. there is no point in pretending.

Re:enough lies please (4, Informative)

pyite (140350) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937066)

there is absolutely nothing, whatsoever, 'valuable' behind a credit default swap. it is a bet. that is a fact, and its not rocket science, and its not a conspiracy theory, and its not "the ignorant and alarmist" decrying some nefarious boogey man.

You're completely wrong. If you buy a bond from company X, it certainly makes sense to have insurance that if company X goes out of business, you still get your money. And hence, the credit default swap was born. The fact that someone may use the instrument to speculate is a separate issue.

People speculate on everything. It's what you do when you stock up on cans of soup when it's on sale. You speculate that the price is going to go up next week.

funny you mention potatos - see NYMEX (3, Informative)

decora (1710862) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937036)

there is a great book that just came out, The Asylum, by Leah McGrath Goodman , which explains how the potato market became a cluster fuck of manipulation and greedy assholes absolutely stealing from the ordinary person.

it also explains why certain industries were banned from trading this shit. why? because you cant operate a society where the price of basic commodities fluctuates by several hundred percent a year just so that a handful of a few dozen traders can make massive amounts of money through manipulating the market.

Re:Perversion of Capitalism (2)

fliptout (9217) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936906)

Oh, please, spare me. I see this sentiment everywhere, and it's nonsense. Traditional investing still works. At the end of the day, investors are still going to look at how much money a company makes and assess how much risk that company's stock poses. If HFT causes blips in a stock's price, the the market will eventually correct the price.

Re:Perversion of Capitalism (1)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936950)

Oh, please, spare me. I see this sentiment everywhere, and it's nonsense. Traditional investing still works. At the end of the day, investors are still going to look at how much money a company makes and assess how much risk that company's stock poses. If HFT causes blips in a stock's price, the the market will eventually correct the price.

Like this blip?
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-05-06/electronic-trading-to-blame-for-stock-market-plunge-nyse-s-leibowitz-says.html [bloomberg.com]

Re:Perversion of Capitalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937138)

Much of the HFT volume disappeared as the market plunged. Things had gone far enough that everyone knew that some trades were going to be canceled, but the standards for which trades would be kept and which would be canceled were not known in advance. Normally another firm's mistake has HFTs salivating, but no one wants to end up with a bunch of canceled trades.

In other words, if an HFT causes blips in a stock's price, another HFT will be happy to immediately correct the price, but only if they're confident they'll be able to keep the money they make from it.

Re:Perversion of Capitalism (5, Interesting)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936970)

This guy nails it - http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/archive/index.php/t-601887.html [straightdope.com]

"It's not about acting on market information. It is purely arbitrage. A mis pricing allows one to buy and sell simultaneously and lock in the difference minus trading costs.

In the old days, traders used to do this in the trading pit. Now it's computers closest to the exchange feed.

Tied in with this is the automatic trading. In the case of that big intra day fall, a wrong trade was entered. I forget the details but it was big enough to push down the market xx amount, which triggered automatic sell programs from non-arbitrage automated computer selling, which triggered a market sell off, which in turn triggered more selling until the market circuit breakers kicked in.

During the mandatory no trading period, the original bad trade was discovered and reversed. This IIRC also triggered automated buy programs and the whole thing went in reverse. The bad thing is that the market whipsaw really hammered some real end investor trades as collateral damage.

I remember watching the Hang Seng Index the day that Soc Gen announced Jerome Kerviel's fraud and liquidated the positions. It was a full trading day of massive market swings for big losses to big gains several times throughout the day. It was almost all computer generated programmatic trading."

Re:Perversion of Capitalism (4, Insightful)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937092)

We pay our taxes to these guys as much as we pay them to the government.

Re:Perversion of Capitalism (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937110)

"Perversion of Capitalism"

No it;s exactly what you get in the real world where market values (profit) drive everything. We see it all the time in offshored jobs, destroyed lives, rolling back of the welfare state, the election of extreme right wing conservatives like Stephen harper.

This "there is some pure capitalism we have to get back to" bullshit is just that - bullshit. The left was born from captialism killing workers, it caused two world wars and then then there was the cold war. This idea that is some 'benign' capitalism we have to get back to is just utter american ignorance.

Traders (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36936730)

"the 'ability to work under pressure when the traders are screaming at you' is a must-have skill.""

Yeah, most of the 'traders' I've met were complete assholes, probably because they realised their high salaries were more down to luck than skill.

Fortunately when I screw up air traffic controllers just have to start rerouting airliners with hundreds of people on board so they don't crash into each other, so I clearly couldn't justify being paid a Wall Street salary. I can't imagine the stress level of having a 'trader' screaming at me.

Re:Traders (4, Interesting)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936772)

It's not even luck, either. It's down to your ability to hob-nob with other psychopaths. My friend's brother-in-law was a trader five years back (pre-recession) and lost something like $800 million (of other people's money) in bad speculations. He was fired for it, but hired into a new firm thanks to his "connections" a few weeks later, at a higher salary than his previous job. Oh, and of course he kept the bonuses he made at the first firm before his investment went bust.

Wall street is the world's greatest argument against the notion that capitalism rewards people in proportion to their skill and hard work.

Re:Traders (5, Interesting)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936860)

The thing is: Wall Street anymore is not very "capitalist", in the historic sense of the term.

"Capitalism", in general, refers to making capital investments in goods that in turn will make a profit. Often, that means indirectly and over time: you spend $1M to buy a machine that makes thousands of widgets a day, and sell the widgets for $5.00 each.

However, with the current obsession with turnover and a quick dollar, what you end up with on Wall Street is really much more pure money speculation, which doesn't have much in the way of capitalist underpinnings. In fact it is a lot more like gambling, which has been around a lot longer than capitalism has.

We simply haven't been seeing the long-term investment in capital goods, which in turn power a robust economy, and at one time made the US the greatest economy in the world.

Until we see a return to something resembling real capitalism (and it still does happen, just not so much on Wall Street anymore), we will continue to have economic problems. A corollary to that is something I have been saying for a long time: Washington needs to stop concentrating on viewing Wall Street as some kind of driver for the economy. That's a false economy. Reasoning: anything that can lose a large percentage of itself overnight is not a stable thing on which to base a real economy. Keynesian "created" fiat dollars can disappear just as fast as they are created, as we saw quite clearly in 2008.

And for similar reasons, I believe HFT should be outlawed. It isn't even a real market anymore; it's simply a contest to see who can spot a discrepancy in perceived value the fastest.

Re:Traders (5, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937076)

I agree HFT is rubbish, but where do you see justification for long-term investment in capital goods in the US? It seems that industry is being moved to where it can be operated more cheaply - there is no economic justification for more investment here. In fact there's a surplus of "capital," at lest in the sense of invested money seeking good returns. (Overall the S&P has returned almost exactly 0% over the last 10 years.) So we keep getting bubbles due to over-investment, first in .com, then housing... what is the "next big thing" where we could invest to bring real growth?

Re:Traders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937084)

Keynes didn't invent fiat currency. There's nothing Keynesian about credit default swaps.

Keynesianism is the idea that a recession is when the private sector prefers to hold on to cash and financial assets rather than buying stuff and building capital assets. With that basic model of the economy, Keynes argues that in a recession, the right thing for the government to do is to borrow and spend more money to increase demand.

It's simple, fairly obvious, and it works. Because it works, the world's financial elites and power brokers have refused to allow it to be tried this time around.

Just to be clear, Keynes would ask the President to create a TVA, a CCC, and half a dozen other jobs programs, building the infrastructure people would depend on for the next 80 years while revitalizing the economy by putting cash in people's pockets with which they turn around and buy stuff. Sadly, we were stuck with Obama instead of FDR this time around, and not quite 60 Democrats in the Senate.

Re:Traders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36936796)

Traders are an interesting breed, yes they can come across as assholes, that's pretty much a requirement (you need an ego the size of Texas for one thing). But having worked around them, there's no way I'd want their job, for any money. The hours, the stress, the never-seeing-your-family. Even if I could do it (and I really don't think I'd be capable) I'd never want to. So as far as I'm concerned they earn their money...doing something other people probably think is easy but is very, very far from it.

Re:Traders (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937132)

Having worked on two trading floors (one as a member of a HFT/algorithmic team), this aspect of the job is somewhat exaggerated. Yes, there is a lot of pressure from the traders when something goes wrong, but the traders themselves usually maintain their composure quite admirably. It goes with the territory--you need to be able to remain calm and collected when the unexpected (or undesirable) happens.

I have never witnessed any screaming. There is definitely shouting, but it's not in any way belligerent. The HFT developers sit on the same trading floor (maybe a few seats over or one row back), and when the traders see something is amiss, they'll shout over to us to make sure we're aware of it without leaving their seats or taking their eyes off the screen. We then shout back to tell them that we're looking into it, bouncing some component, etc.

I suspect that if a trader actually did start screaming, the lead trader would tell him to get out and not come back until he can keep his cool.

Another thing to consider is that on an HFT team, the trading is algorithmic. While some traders occasionally place trades manually, much of their job involves pouring over trade logs looking for anomalies: missed opportunities, trades which shouldn't have been executed, periods of especially low or high activity, etc. Luck doesn't really factor in to an HFT trader's performance since they're not the ones doing the trading. Much of that stress gets shifted to the developers--particularly those who develop the strategies.

Linux by default? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36936736)

Not surprising. Wall street is basically a hot bed of criminals, so it's not surprising to see them using an operating system that is built from stolen Microsoft technology.

Re:Linux by default? (1, Funny)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936750)

Not surprising. Wall street is basically a hot bed of criminals, so it's not surprising to see them using an operating system that is built from stolen Microsoft technology.

That's a twist ending even M. Night Shyamalan would be proud of...

Re:Linux by default? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36936752)

nice!!

Re:Linux by default? (0)

earls (1367951) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936756)

lol, perfect.

Re:Linux by default? (-1)

WorBlux (1751716) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936762)

Actually they stole most of thier ideas from Bell Labs (Unix) and initially borrowed code from minix so that Linus didn't need to write an entire OS in one go.

Re:Linux by default? (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936812)

>Linux stole from minix and unix

Boy oh boy, this story is bringing out the softies tonight.

Do you get paid to do this clown act or do you just do it to attract the children?

--
BMO

Re:Linux by default? (1)

WorBlux (1751716) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936900)

POSIX: Portable Operating System Interface for UNIX.

Linux tries to keep pretty close to to it. 'nuff said.

It's also no secret linus learned OS design a large part from hands on operation with minix, and that the minix file system was the first file system linux used.

Re:Linux by default? (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937008)

> Using a specification
> "stealing"

No. Just no. You may as well claim the same thing about Windows, because Windows idiots hop up and down about how POSIX compliant Windows is.

>It's also no secret linus learned OS design a large part from hands on operation with minix

You have no idea what Tanenbaum had to say about this, do you?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanenbaum%E2%80%93Torvalds_debate [wikipedia.org]

>Implying that a file system specification has any bearing on how a kernel is designed.

Don't know if you're trolling or just stupid. I suspect both.

--
BMO

Re:Linux by default? (0)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936784)

>so it's not surprising to see them using an operating system that is built from stolen Microsoft technology.

Funny how the NYSE and the LSE both tried Microsoft solutions and moved off of it.

Microsoft is an example of how not to do something. Darl McBride, Microsoft's attack chihuahua, called this "negative know-how" and thought that since Linux devs learned how not to do something, somehow SCO was owed money.

Softies: confirmed for total retards.

--
BMO

Stress (5, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936754)

I used to co-locate in the same building as the local stock exchange. One day, very late, I took the elevator down to the car park, which was where the computers were. There was a guy in the elevator who looked absolutely wrecked. He was sweaty, shaky and not taking things in. He got off at my level and stumbled off towards a porsche which appeared to be similarly young and in equally bad condition.

The thing is, I work in air traffic control, where the stakes are even higher. The difference is that the operational people have an absolutely obsessive approach to managing their workforce. Traffic controllers are just not allowed to get upset or stressed. In many environments they have unlimited sick leave.

The difference, I suppose, is that traders personally stand to take home a lot of money. You could do this in any field: offer ridiculous compensation for ridiculous effort. But if you work it out, I doubt the long term returns justify what this does to people.

I am an HFT programmer (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36936764)

I'll be posting anonymously, but I think many here have a very poor understanding of what we do. Most of that is because we do tend to be a very secretive group, but if you were to sit down with some of us, you would see that we really do very normal (and useful!) things in the market.

I work on the algo and core infrastructure. I wrote price feeds that take 1/5th of a microsecond in C++ and (a little slower) in Java. I understand in fine detail how cache and the the PCI-e bus works. I have a very good understanding of algorithms and the constant-time tradeoffs. I know when to make something simple, when to use and avoid threads, and I can debug in minutes and push out a new version in the seconds before market open (not many people can handle that level of stress well). I read the C++ and Hotspot assembly, and know how to program for superscaler architectures specifically. If you really need me to, I can even crank out some VHDL code.

On top of that, I understand market microstructure and derivative pricing. I work 12 hours a day on average and do 100 hour weeks. I am on call during Asian hours and need to come in sometimes on holidays when other markets are going nuts and we need to plan.

I also hope to make $500,000 this year.

You always hear about Google programmers being the best in the industry, but I've been to a couple Google interviews and turned them down both times because the engineering quality just isn't there. I'd put the average HFT programmer up against the best in Google anyday.

Ask away, and I'll answer to the best of my ability.

Re:I am an HFT programmer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36936786)

Clever troll, bragging about how amazing you are and how awful everyone else is, under the guise of being helpful. I'm sure you'll get some bites.

Re:I am an HFT programmer (2)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936790)

I can debug in minutes and push out a new version in the seconds

You must be taking a huge gamble by doing that. I don't see how your new version could be considered safe to use if it is deployed that fast.

Re:I am an HFT programmer (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36936922)

Another HFT programmer here. I once had to make a run-time modification to an algorithm to keep about $100 million from going at a lower price than what the traders wanted. Sometimes market conditions change so fast that the traders demand the ability to make rapid adjustments to the algorithm. They're willing to take the risk. They can't wait for the safe development cycle.

Re:I am an HFT programmer (5, Insightful)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937130)

"They can't wait for the safe development cycle."

This, from the people in charge of trading amazingly large amounts of money in a market which influences the global economy in a big way. (remember that billion vs. million mix-up awhile back that caused some pretty big problems until it was fixed)

You call it risky, I call it reckless. You try what you're doing in any other field and you'd be fired pretty damn quick.

That said, I'm not so much angry at you as I am at the people who ask you to do this.

Re:I am an HFT programmer (2)

Jayson (2343) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936962)

To some extend yes, but the order management and routing systems have checks and there are circuit breakers to prevent total trainwrecks. It is a cost/benefit thing. How likely am I to lose $10k immediatey verus make $50k on the market close? One very important skill is in being able to estimate how likely you think you are right.

I wouldn't do this for huge programs or where the lost can be gigantic or I couldn't evaluate the risk.

Trying to cut corners, I did lose $1.6 million one day because I had a bug in my code. A lot of people have these stories when working on some high-risk projects (something HFT place usually try to stay away from). I learned from my mistake and more than made up for it a week later.

Re:I am an HFT programmer (1)

Jayson (2343) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936992)

FYI, I'm not the original poster, but another HFT developer. That is the only >$1mm loss I've ever had, but have had smaller, and it wasn't exactly for what some consider HFT, but for a trend prediction system. It was for an overseas illiquid market across a couple instruments and we had a bug elsewhere that didn't count our position properly.

Re:I am an HFT programmer (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937048)

It sounds a bit like:

  • If I change nothing I am out of business
  • If I make a mistake I am out of business
  • If I change the code and it works then I am in business

So you change the code and take the risk.

Re:I am an HFT programmer (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36936988)

Perhaps not. I was interviewed for an HFT position and given a programming challenge and when I was asked "quote is this ready for production" I said no, as a software engineer I would want to test it first", I was, actually, yes truly, yelled at. During the interview!

Bizarre world.

Re:I am an HFT programmer (3, Interesting)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936800)

I also hope to make $500,000 this year

That's all? Demand more, if your skills are what you say. You should be pulling in $2M/yr minimum.

Re:I am an HFT programmer (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36936808)

how do you feel about having all that talent and technical ability, yet produce absolutely nothing of value to society and instead spend your time allowing psychopaths to beat other psychopaths by fractions of a second, all to the detriment of everyone else?

Re:I am an HFT programmer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36936816)

the way you describe it, i bet you have very little of a social life.

I would take googles job over yours any day. even if the engineering quality is lower.

Re:I am an HFT programmer (1)

ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936880)

In some jobs you earn twice as much, but end up looking twice as old and feeling twice as old....

Re:I am an HFT programmer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36936818)

Could you illustrate using a typical use case where running a program in 1/5th of microsecond instead of 1/2 can be beneficial and how? Also what mathematical background is necessary to deal with the algorithms? Any reading you suggest to prepare a general programmer to start HFT programming (Assume basic C/C++ and machine knowledge.) Thanks.

Re:I am an HFT programmer (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36936886)

Just doing it faster than the other guy.

If somebody find an arbitrage opportunity in an hour or sees a press release and submits a trade an hour later, that used to be considered too quick and the telegraph and phone where seen as unfair.

If an hour is fine, why not a minute, or a second? There is just no real dividing line. If we push the markets together a millisecond faster, there isn't much social worth, but it is that competition for that tiny timeslice that gives what we do benefit. That competition makes sure oil is priced the same (minus friction) all over the world in all different currencies, for example. If you made it impossible to profitably do that, prices would be incoherent and often off the mark (e.g., ETFs rely on that arb opportunity to stay pegged to their true value). I don't see how you can keep that benefit without allowing this speed arms race.

For math:

For 70% of what you do, algebra is about it in equties and futures. Once you venture a little past that into options or scalping strategies for example, calculus comes in a little. It is kind of a little embarassing, but even the pure quants spend most of their time in algrabra and calc.

A couple more things to point out (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36936822)

1 - A lot of stuff you hear about HFT (using supercomputers, using functional languages, using clusters, using nosql databases, etc...) are either back office, B-rate HFT firms, or BS. In my experience at the higher end places I've worked, Java and C/C++ are the standard for any trading system or order routing system. To push something out in single-digit microseconds, you really need the control of those languages (yeah, Java doesn't quite have the same level, but you can get it close enough by knowing enough about HotSpot). (back office are those that do the behind the support stuff like keeping track of risk, order flow, etc.. while front office does the actual algos and trading systems)

2 - We tend to rewrite everything at the upper levels. A lot of firms will use things like 29 West or other messaging, order routing, parsing libraries, but when you get to head of the pack, you tend to do it all yourself. This goes doubly true for the language APIs. I can't remember the last time I used STL, Boost, or the JDK util classes.

3 - We don't front run, we try to not predict over any appreciable amount of time. We have very high Sharp ratios (risk adjusted return) because we don't do those things. HFT is very low risk and we like to keep it that way. There are some HFT firms that can a full year without a losing day.

4 - In HFT the line between a front-office developer and a trader is very blurry. I'm often responsible for developing my own trading algos and running them all myself. Various shops have different break downs, and some don't even employ traders beyond the front office programming staff.

Re:A couple more things to point out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36936852)

What's the advantage of doing all this for someone else instead of just doing it yourself (and thereby increasing your own profit)?

Is it because of the infrastructure they provide? I assume you have a better connection than a retail person could get by co-locating?

Re:A couple more things to point out (1)

earls (1367951) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936944)

Instant access to hundreds of millions of a dollars that makes these super short trades possible.

Re:A couple more things to point out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36936956)

The infrastructure, and other talent, but most importantly the seed capital.

There are a lot of small HFT places though. When outsiders think HFT they often think big banks, but in reality the top HFT firms tend to be small couple hundred people places. I even worked at a 12 person company, and I was late to the party on that. If you want to specialize in a particular market or type of trade, you can be successful when small. If is hard to make a general purpose trading infrastructure that goes to these extreme limits. But if you want to optimize for futures trading on CME or trading in Japan, you can have your little slice of pie.

Re:I am an HFT programmer (1)

PmanAce (1679902) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936826)

I can debug in minutes and push out a new version in the seconds before market open

No peer reviews and/or staging deployments before going to prod? This sounds fishy...

Re:I am an HFT programmer (1)

PmanAce (1679902) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936862)

Hmm, I went and read some stuff about writing in one of these languages (functional languages like Smalltalk and Haskell). This means that you can prove the correctness of the code, presumably automatically, so presumably very quickly...no need for peer reviews and test deployments. Interesting.

Re:I am an HFT programmer (2)

pauljlucas (529435) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936934)

This means that you can prove the correctness of the code, presumably automatically, so presumably very quickly...no need for peer reviews and test deployments.

If that's true, then why wasn't it apparently done in the first place to prevent the bug that he supposedly fixed?

Re:I am an HFT programmer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36936878)

Uh... no it doesn't. I've heard this before from such people, and it's not like the company is going to be out of the market for days(or even a few hours) simply to do some testing. This is why things occasionally *do* fail... but you've got people on staff to fix it and get it running immediately should it happen.
Yes, mistakes happen, but

Re:I am an HFT programmer (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936930)

I can debug in minutes and push out a new version in the seconds before market open

No peer reviews and/or staging deployments before going to prod? This sounds fishy...

*sigh*. These young ones, with their peer reviews and staging deployments. HFT programmers evidently hark back to a less bureaucratized age, when you could be a hero by hot-patching the running image in the production system. Wouldn't mind doing it myself, as my temperament runs more to cowboy than code review, but 100 hours a week is too much, even for $500K.

Re:I am an HFT programmer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937094)

You have it right. I'm still relative young, but we do tend to be cowboy coders, and this is why HFT places tend to go after very good programmer and problem solvers. We also need to estimate how likely we are to being correct and how likely we are to take a huge hit and determine if it is worth the risk.

Also there are other parts of the system to catch erroneous orders or stop the algo when position limits are reached or it goes aggro spewing out orders.

Re:I am an HFT programmer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937038)

Ex-banker here, but not an ex-developer. What he describes is BAU for a quanitative trading desk. There are endless audit kerfuffles around the fact these guys often have simultaneously dev, uat, prod segment access, run modeling software off the dev seg without a corresponding prod seg version, admin access to their prod seg PCs, no four eye deploument rules, blah blah blah. The business management then ignores the audit issue because of the profits involved.

Re:I am an HFT programmer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937054)

It depends on the situation. Opportunity cost matters. Releasing code with limited (or zero) review or testing is of course risky and might end up losing money, but not releasing isn't risk-free either.

You wouldn't want to release code like this all the time, but it can occasionally be the lesser of two evils.

Re:I am an HFT programmer (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937098)

No peer reviews and/or staging deployments before going to prod? This sounds fishy...

I work on the infrastructure side of high frequency trading. Basically it means squeezing out micro and nanoseconds from everything below the app.

There are *countless* times that we've discovered problems in the morning and barely fixed them by 9:30. There's simply no time for second guessing. Peer review consists of an IM session and a conference bridge and everyone doing a once over. You need to be confident, but not overly so. And most of all, you need to be able to type fast with 10 people over your shoulder.

We'd be out of business if we had to wait for people to approve everything we did.

Re:I am an HFT programmer (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36936832)

I work 12 hours a day on average and do 100 hour weeks.

I hope you get time to enjoy your $500, 000 because there are only 168 hours in a week.

Re:I am an HFT programmer (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937102)

Indeed, it must be very stressful working 12 hours a day, 8.3 days a week...

Re:I am an HFT programmer (2)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936864)

...we really do very normal (and useful!) things in the market...

You can't tell me that a company changed direction in 1/5th of a microsecond. You're not allocating capital investment to companies based on actual merit, you're skimming money from other investors.

John Templeton and Warren Buffet didn't get rich through micro-transactions. They allocated capital to companies, allowed them time to prosper and *if* they did, then they were rewarded.

You've convinced me of your technical skills but not that "[you] really do very normal (and useful!) things in the market".

Re:I am an HFT programmer (2)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936968)

I can tell you that the investors who bought the stock _first_ after the company's announcement of better-than-expected annual earnings was published, and started to push up the value of the stock, might indeed make a lot of money. Being the stock trader that handled the trades for them is also a reliable source of revenue. Being able to sell your stock clients a slight advantage in profits, one that you can measure, can easily bring in an unreasonable amount of extra business.

The business is very strange, and I'm afraid vulnerable to changes by the SEC in how such transactions are allowed. It's inherently unstable: the feedback loops are nearly impossible to trace because they're hidden behind the concealed trading algorithms of numerous companies, and it's very easy for a set of very modest delays to feed back and cause a massive positive feedback loop, unless the system is very heavily damped. Right now, it's not very damped, and this sets the possibility of "high frequency trading" become "high frequency oscillation" until it slams against the floor of the stock market assets.

Re:I am an HFT programmer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36936936)

Beware the advice of rich people. They hate competition despite all their public professions of love for the "free market". They like the market to be anything but free. With their advice, there's usually some crucial information missing or it's a dramatic oversimplification. Outright lies that if followed are designed to eliminate the competition. Like that Google psychopath talking about doing dumb things. Yeah, *YOU* go ahead and do dumb things while he sends out lobbyists and has people over a barrel with his cock up as many asses as possible.

Re:I am an HFT programmer (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36936948)

$500,000 divide by 52 weeks = $9,615 / week
$9,615 divide by 100 hours = $96.15

Re:I am an HFT programmer (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937030)

$9,615 / (40 hours + (60 hours overtime * 1.5)) = $73.96 hourly wage

Re:I am an HFT programmer (1)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936982)

Where do you get these price feeds from (or route the prices to) ? surely you could save 5e-7s just by using shorter cables or putting the mic and speakers closer to the traders.

Re:I am an HFT programmer (2)

pyite (140350) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937120)

Where do you get these price feeds from (or route the prices to) ? surely you could save 5e-7s just by using shorter cables or putting the mic and speakers closer to the traders.

Nearly all market data is transmitted from the exchanges via IP multicast. Typically you will have servers in each exchange to trade on that exchange, but you also will have links pulling in market data from every other relevant venue as well.

See, for example, Spread Networks [spreadnetworks.com] who made a lot of money by digging a really straight trench from Chicago to New Jersey in order to get CME data to the NJ metro area as fast as possible.

how much cocaine do traders use? (2, Insightful)

decora (1710862) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937060)

and how many prostitutes do they kill, on average, per year?

Re:I am an HFT programmer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937100)

Got any more work? I'll work for $150k and you can go on vacation :)

I am a Google engineer (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937124)

[Posting anonymously since we are talking money, etc.]

I am a senior engineer @ Google. I work regular 40 hour weeks, am rarely on-call and work on projects that really interest me. I work with a great team where I have a lot of fun with my co-workers, enjoy fantastic free meals, great health insurance and numerous other benefits (such the latest and greatest geek toys, and working from home any time I want). And yes, I am sure to make $500K this year.

Maybe you should consider accepting the Google offer?

Translation (1)

Chas (5144) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936770)

They're paid not to steal (or at least not get caught).

yeeeeeah (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36936782)

I'm past the whole "a-holes can yell at me if they pay me enough" phase.

from an HFT developer's view (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36936802)

I'm a developer at an HFT firm and can say that it is some of the most interesting work I've done in my career. You need to wear many hats for the job.

On a daily basis I multitask between making low-level kernel modifications to reduce system latencies, to refactoring our high level marketdata->prediction->execution engine. It's a never ending balance/conflict between making things as fast as possible while trying to maintain good design principles and not take shortcuts in the sole interest of efficiency.

To those that say HFT is an anathema to the economy, I think there is some merit, but there are two sides to every story. I've definitely met some other HFT shops that focus on some really shady and morally questionably tactics (essentially DDOSing markets to gain an advantage). However, the amazing advancement in network technology and all these crazy RDMA and 10G user-space network stacks is literally due to the HFT community, and I'm already seeing these new technologies start to penetrate other markets. This is capitalism at work.

Also, believe it or not, HFT has reduced spreads due to competition, which means you pay less when you want to buy or sell a stock RightNow instead of using a limit order (and while spread reduction is good for investors, it sucks for us because it is not as profitable as it used to be a few years ago).

The "Billions" in profits going to HFT firms right now previously went to the big investment banks and the old classic broker taking orders over the phone and charging a ridiculous market spread.

Re:from an HFT developer's view (1)

earls (1367951) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936966)

Excellent counter-point. Thanks for the info.

word on the street... (2)

kervin (64171) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936804)

As some of the interviewers in the article hint at, HFT is a small niche that's getting way more than its share of attention.

I'm not saying HFT isn't dangerous, or something to keep an eye on. But if you're looking for a job in Manhattan financial sector, you'll more likely be working in web or other "high level" stacks.

Java is *huge*, .Net is also very popular. Web is, of course, very important with just about every stack, from Ruby to ASP.Net represented. I see a surprising about of MatLab for analysis ( I guess I just wasn't expecting to see any with QuantLib [wikipedia.org] and similar floating around ).

Selling the soul? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36936824)

Basically they are getting paid to be someone's bitch. As in selling the parts of their souls, that is, their professional integrity. The truth is that is the case in most of 'programming jobs' where one is acting on someone's whims and wishes, however inarticulate they are. Inept managers, bosses, indebted traders, all with no clear thoughts and power to concentrate envision, plan and/or solve engineering problems, but with enormous greed, driving us all "forward"...

Not all HFT programmers are alike (1)

Tony Isaac (1301187) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936830)

A while back, I hired a former HFT programmer. He was bright, but not six-figure talent.

If you're the best and brightest in any field, you can make a very nice salary. HFT requires some special skills, but in my experience hiring programmers, intelligence, hard work, and ability to learn quickly are more important than specific resume points.

How long to programmers stay in that type of job?? (2)

Cutting_Crew (708624) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936842)

I get e-mails ALL the time from these people up in NYC. If i so much as wink at my resume online differently I can always be certain that I will be receiving many opening jobs in the trading and banking industry. In fact, throughout my career, this has always been the case. I live in Florida. Why in the world would they be trying to recruit me from florida and why have I always gotten e-mails from them. Is it because they have a lot of people leaving? Do people get frequent burnout? Are they just spamming?

The last "recruiter" to e-mail me wanted to know if I was looking for a 'great' opportunity in the banking industry writing C++ applications with a big whopping salary of $100,000 with a 12 month contract. Since i was tired of these people wasting their time trying to contact me I e-mailed them back and asked why they thought I would just get up and move from Florida to New York for a 1 year contract and i tried to get confirmation of a starting salary of $100,000 a year. He e-mailed back stating that $100,000 was indeed the starting salary with great 'benefits'. So i e-mailed back and informed him that i was already making $75,000 there and no state taxes so $100K really wasn't that great of a deal, especially considering that I would have to make 4 times my current salary that I am making now just to come close to breaking even in NYC. Incidentally I never got another e-mail back from him.

When you have a family, there is no way I am giving up a house to move to NYC to live in a one bedroom closet for the same price as my 4 bedroom house. - with less income coming in.

Re:How long to programmers stay in that type of jo (1)

malakai (136531) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936890)

You do it for the bonus, not the salary. But either way, you don't do it for a 1 year contract.

Re:How long to programmers stay in that type of jo (1)

Cutting_Crew (708624) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936940)

yeah but the cost of housing costs about 3 or 4 times as much for what i am living in now. how much does a 3,000 sq ft home cost in the NYC suburbs anyway? I am also aware of the fact that if i want to maintain that same sort of lifestyle then i am not going to be living in city which is not going to work with kids - but maybe if people do end up working 100 hour weeks, then it is probably more suited to people that have no family at all to take care of. So what are we talking about here? A 1 hour commute one way? No thanks. I also doubt that the bonus would still not make up for what I would get to break even - just a hunch.

Re:How long to programmers stay in that type of jo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36936964)

When you have a family, there is no way I am giving up a house to move to NYC to live in a one bedroom closet for the same price as my 4 bedroom house. - with less income coming in.

Not to mention NYC is a crowded, crime-ridden, often filthy, concrete jungle of a depressing nerve-wracking shithole place to live that's full of rude assholes and people who think even the most casual eye contact is an advanced form of aggression. Those are the decent neighborhoods and it gets much worse. And if you ever have to drive a car, I sure hope you love traffic! Oh and if any sort of natural disaster or anything of that sort were to happen, a big city with at most a 3-day food supply is the very last place you would ever want to be.

Maybe you love money more than I do. Maybe you're a masochist. Or maybe you don't know what you were considering. But there's just no way in hell I'd consider moving to NYC. Not even just to screw around with an ambitious recruiter. The place is a monument to everything that is soul-less and dehumanized about society.

Re:How long to programmers stay in that type of jo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937022)

As to how long programmers stay in these kinds of jobs, it depends. I'd say it's a split: many programmers stay in finance for a long time, some leave after less than a year, and there's not a lot in between. It tends to be a "love it or hate it" proposition: those that love it stay, and those that hate it figure it out pretty quickly and leave. Some programmers won't have the chops for HFT but will want to stay in the financial sector, in which case there are plenty of other jobs to choose from.

Insider Trading at its Technological Best (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36936892)

The field is based on various "low latency" multicast services, and being able to make your trades microseconds before other companies before your competitors. It's expensive to set up, but done properly it gives you a lead in manipulating huge sums of money at slightly greater profits to your own company. The result is effectively shoving the money into the pockets of the few companies that can afford that "insider" advantage of the low latency.

Unfortunately, it's all about to go away. The use of FPGA's directly where the fiber optic leaves the stock market, or even inside it, to pre-process and merely send along the "buy" or "sell" signals of relevant stocks is about to cut the the high frequency trading market to ribbons, and expose the house of cards of extremely expensive hardware investments for such trading as a completely wasted capital investment.

I speak for the people! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36936924)

Down with gays.

What about the sysadmins?!? (1)

ewwhite (533880) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936958)

Unfortunately, us systems/network engineers in the HFT industry don't get the same level of respect (or pay) as the developers... It's better than other industries, but yeah...

Re:What about the sysadmins?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937148)

Unfortunately, us systems/network engineers in the HFT industry don't get the same level of respect (or pay) as the developers.

You're at the wrong firm, my friend.

Ada! (1)

Javaman59 (524434) | more than 3 years ago | (#36936994)

When I worked on the Canadian Automated Air Traffic Control System (CAATS) Ada skills were at a premium, and I was recruited from Australia on $80,000, in 1998, so that's probably $150K plus in 2011. The project had nearly two hundred Ada engineers recruited from around the world, on similar, or better, salaries. Plus, it was a great project, great team, moderate pressure, and in one of the worlds most beautiful cities!

I shifted to C++ and then .Net, but I think the Ada market has kept high salaries, even while it has been shrinking, especially for those with a security clearance in the US.

Who likes to be screamed at (1)

Col. Klink (retired) (11632) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937086)

I interviewed once for a trading firm. They were honest at the interview and told me that someone would probably scream at me for something that wasn't my fault. I declined.

I had another friend who did take a job up there (different firm and not a programmer). She was ready to quit and was complaining about how mean they were. I tried to console her and told her she had no way of knowing what it would be like. Then she told me that they actually made her cry during the interview but she took the job anyways.

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